The death penalty is the ultimate punishment for capital murder convictions in Texas, which leads the nation in the number of executions since the practice resumed in 1976.
The state has adopted various methods to administer the death penalty over the years, including hanging (1819-1923), electrocution (1924-1964) and lethal injection (1977-today), according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's ...
Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins, under fire at home for his handling of an investigation into Democratic county constables, played defense before an Austin crowd this morning in a TribLive interview with the Tribune's Evan Smith.Full Story
Since his appointment, the alternately amiable and peevish, typically cowboy-boot-shod chairman of the Texas Forensic Science Commission has comported himself as a virtuoso of the bureaucratic dawdle. With the commission's investigation of the now-notorious Cameron Todd Willingham case "still in its infancy," John Bradley has this to say about when it might conclude its review: "However long it takes, that’s however long it takes.”Full Story
Depending on whom you ask, Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins’ repeated refusal to allow Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott into a local corruption investigation is either bold or stupid. Either way, it’s unusual. Abbott has offered prosecution assistance to local district attorneys 226 times since 2007, when lawmakers first gave him permission to do it. In all but 16 cases, he’s been invited in. And Watkins didn't decline politely.Full Story
Ninety minutes of back-and-forth on Wednesday between a House committee and representatives of the Texas Forensic Science Commission — but not its chairman — covered the besieged agency’s nonexistent enforcement power, lack of written procedural guidelines, and public records policy. Oh, and the late Cameron Todd Willingham.Full Story
Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins won’t go so far as to compare his support to the near-divine fervor of President Obama’s. But Watkins, who gained national prominence for using DNA evidence to exonerate nearly two dozen wrongfully convicted people in one of Texas’ notoriously tough-on-crime jurisdictions, will come close. “It’s a religious experience to vote for Craig Watkins,” Texas’ first African-American D.A. says without irony. Like Obama, he says, other Democratic candidates are “hanging their hats” on his re-election — and on the minority voters he draws to the polls. Like Obama, he’s got “a big target” on his back. “I’ve got to fight the political attacks coming at me from all directions," he insists. “I’ll say it publicly: If you throw punches at us, we’ll drop a bomb on you.”Full Story
The U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay this evening of the execution of death row inmate Hank Skinner, who was scheduled to die today.Full Story
State Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, and state Rep. Elliott Naishtat, D-Austin, wrote Gov. Rick Perry letters today urging him to grant a 30-day reprieve for death-row inmate Hank Skinner, who is scheduled for execution tomorrow.Full Story
The seven-member Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles today unanimously rejected death-row inmate Hank Skinner's request for a reprieve from his execution, which is scheduled for Wednesday.Full Story
Grissom on the 1.2 million Texans who've lost their licenses under the Driver Responsibility Act and the impenetrable black box that is the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, Ramshaw and Kraft on nurses with substance abuse problems and rehabilitation that can get them back to work, M. Smith finds it's not easy being Rick Green, Stiles on counting Texans (and everybody else), Rapoport on the State Board of Education's war with itself and the runoff in SBOE District 10, Thevenot's revealing interview with a big-city superintendent on closing bad schools, Aguilar on the tensions over water on the Texas-Mexico border, Hamilton on the new Coffee Party, Hu on Kesha Rogers and why her party doesn't want her, Philpott on the runoff in HD-47, Ramsey on Bill White and the politics of taxes, and E. Smith's conversation with Game Change authors Mark Halperin and John Heleimann: The best of our best from March 15 to 19.Full Story
Barring the intervention of the U.S. Supreme Court, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles is Hank Skinner’s last hope for reprieve from the poison-filled syringe he is set to meet on Wednesday. The board makes life-or-death decisions, recommending to the governor whether an execution should be delayed, called off or carried out, yet it’s one of the least transparent agencies in state government.Full Story
Chromosal Laboratories, a DNA testing lab in Phoenix, Ariz., told Gov. Rick Perry that it will test evidence in the Hank Skinner case for free and within 30 days if he grants a reprieve of the convicted murderer's March 24 execution date.Full Story
Lawyers for death row inmate Hank Skinner sent Gov. Rick Perry a letter yesterday asking him for a 30-day reprieve from Skinner's scheduled March 24 execution. The lawyers also asked Perry to order DNA testing on evidence that Skinner says could prove his innocence.Full Story
In an unexpected reversal, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has thrown out Charles Dean Hood's death sentence on the heels of a U.S. Supreme Court appeal and national media attention.Full Story